I am writing in regard to Jay Shumway's Feb. 7 letter to the editor entitled "Activist groups take wrong approach" in the hope that I can separate myth and fact vis- -vis the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), clarify some of Shumway's numerous misconceptions, and offer some insight into the nature of Critical Mass Bike Rides.
First, while it may be convenient to attribute the Critical Mass Bike Ride to SEAC, the reality is altogether different. In fact, SEAC has no formal affiliation with the ride. Critical Mass Bike Rides are a citizens' event whereby myriad cyclists take action expressing their concerns in the community by attracting attention to the issue at hand.
Thus, Critical Mass Bike Rides are a gathering of diverse people unified by the common vision of clean air, accommodation for cyclists, and an end to the tyranny of the automobile.
Shumway feels that people don't take SEAC seriously. Maybe this is why the University of Arizona used his tuition money to hire an undercover detective in a futile attempt to infiltrate and undermine SEAC's effective action in defense of Mount Graham that directly led to the withdrawal of numerous partners in the corrupt project and led to the present injunction against further telescope development on Mount Graham.
Shumway also says, "Do you really think these motorists will respect and admire you and want to imitate you? Of course they will not." If we wanted to be "admired" and "respected" we would be lousy sycophants, petty bureaucrats, unthinking students docile in the face of destruction and corruption. Conformity, consumption, ignorance and apathy are the most admired elements in our society by the status-quo. We are out there to bring immediate attention to Tucson's rapidly declining air quality and promote alternative modes of transportation. Furthermore, many motorists showed support for cyclists during the ride!
To say that the issues SEAC espouses are "generally without merit" is to court genuine ignorance and misunderstanding (unless, of course, one feels that cultural genocide, institutionalized racism, and toxic air are mere trivialities that warrant no attention). Shumway epitomizes the knee-jerk reaction of many individuals today to any action within the community. Needless to say, Shumway is clearly ill-educated about the history of the environmental movement, the dynamics of change within our society, and how environmental action can alter the status-quo paradigms and ideology.
Ask yourself, do you want another Phoenix or Houston? Is the precious natural beauty of the desert worthy of protection? Is anything more fundamental to life than breath?
Environmental Science Sophomore
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